DEV Community

Cover image for Is the multiverse of WordPress in danger?
pO0q 🦄
pO0q 🦄

Posted on

Is the multiverse of WordPress in danger?

I've been maintaining a small plugin for WordPress users over the past years.

I've also used WordPress for various projects, from small websites to big factories (e.g., multisite, multi-networks).

WordPress might do a lot for the popularity of PHP, depsite all the [legitimate] critics you might have against the code.

Gutenberg or not?

The core team has introduced Gutenberg, a brand new javascript/react-based editor in 2018.

The big change did not come without issues, and a significant part of the WordPress galaxy remains skeptical.

Critics like to highlight popular plugins like "Classic Editor" or "Disable Gutenberg" and their millions of active installs.

While you cannot ignore such statistics, pretty much every time a new feature appears in the core, a new plugin is released to disable it.

With WordPress, it's not a surprise, it's a tradition.

Although, not all plugins reach millions of active installations.

The multiverse of WordPress

WordPress has so many applications and usages, from the free platform for blogs (wordpress.org) to the self-hosting solution for individuals and corporate environments, not to mention all derivated products and projects.

The featured image of this post is a screenshot from the very end of the movie "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," where a mysterious woman appears from nowhere to tell Strange he created an "incursion."

That's a very geeky way to illustrate the problem here, but, in the movie, an incursion happens when two universes collide, which usually leads to the destruction of both.

I sincerely hope WordPress won't end like that, but a significant part of users seem to prefer premium page builders and other third-party solutions to Gutenberg, and this huge ecosystem gets more and more fragmented.

I keep maintaining both editors

As a plugin maintainer, I like to provide both options, which means my Gutenberg users get a custom integration using React and the Gutenberg API, but others can still use the plugin with a simple metabox.

The battle for E-commerce seems tough

While the ecosystem has various solutions for E-commerce, for example, the very popular Woocommerce, some companies may be reluctant to use WordPress for various reasons, including the following:

  • self-hosted e-commerce is difficult to secure and maintain (not specific to WordPress)
  • competitors are impressive: Square, Shopify
  • Gutenberg was not meant to boost such usages, and there's not so many blocks available for E-commerce
  • big payment plaftorms like Stripe tend to provide their own integration for static websites which removes the hassle of databases and other dynamic frameworks

WordPress may no longer attract all young businesses that need to go online quickly with minimum efforts and budget.

Wrap up

I know there are lots of posts that speculate on the potential death of frameworks or even programming languages.

We know for sure that the main goal of Gutenberg was full site editing (FSE), and users can already enjoy the first versions of this global WYSIWYG editor (not just for posts), but I genuinely wonder what the future holds for this CMS.

Competition is great, and I don't think WordPress itself aims to keep this kind of monopolistic position for eternity.

Top comments (9)

Collapse
 
ben profile image
Ben Halpern

I think Wordpress is in trouble — but only if they don’t fix some of these issues.

Microsoft was, to some extent, “in trouble” a decade ago. Due to scale and incumbency, they were far from actually being at risk of dying, but they were definitely in trouble.

Just like IBM hasn’t exactly been thriving in the last few decades, even if they aren’t dying either.

WP isn’t going to snap and become obsolete, but it needs the right reinventions to keep its place.

Collapse
 
po0q profile image
pO0q 🦄

The comparison makes sense, and I agree with you on the lifecycle.

When they introduced Gutenberg, I took it as an opportunity to practice React and JavaScript, but even if they took their time to improve and simplify the API, both developers and users experience some difficulties.

It's too bad, as I like many elements in this editors, but these are just facts.

Collapse
 
ingosteinke profile image
Ingo Steinke

"The WordPress multiverse" has been fragmented for a long time now. Apart from page builders like Elementor, the multitude of plugins almost guarantees that you won't find two WordPress instances alike and no one can hardly claim they "know WordPress".

Gutenberg is based on good intentions, but it has thousands of open bug tickets on GitHub, and it shows every time you try to actually use that editor, and even if it works, look at the markup it generates. Why would any "new" software use so many inline styles in 2023? Seriously?

I have been struggling with and ranting about Gutenberg and Full-Site-Editing for too long, now I focus on the (my) right way to build classic themes with optional Gutenberg block support, but preferably sticking to the classic editor with limited markup and preview functionality, using more custom fields. I will show my work in one of my upcoming blogposts.

I doubt that WordPress is in danger. Its multiverse / flexibility and ease of use compared to real content management systems like Typo and Drupal, and the ability to just install it and control your content on your own webserver, try that with Wix, WebFlow, SquareSpace, Shopify and all those "serverless" software as a service servers. Hopefully, the core team will either get their block editor right some day (WordPress 7.0?) or make it completely optional. That would still be better than a fork, but I'd wished they had improved security, performance and internationalization instead of releasing that half-baked new editor and full-site-editing features in an unstable beta state.

Collapse
 
po0q profile image
pO0q 🦄 • Edited

I doubt that WordPress is in danger

It still powers 2/3 of the web, but it needs to evolve, which is probably why Gutenberg was created.

Hopefully, the core team will either get their block editor right some day (WordPress 7.0?) or make it completely optional

Not a bad idea. I never thought of that possibility.

Why would any "new" software use so many inline styles in 2023?

I can understand the critic, but there are some work on that as far as I know.

I don't know why exactly, but the new syntax in database entries (JSON-like syntax for blocks) bothers me. One may consider that it's not worse than HTML markup.

I prefer the custom field approach too (e.g., with acf), but that's probably because I don't have to maintain a generic CMS for everyone and made lots of corporate websites ^^.

Collapse
 
altweb profile image
Papa Hawk❤️‍🔥 • Edited

WordPress will continue on as it has. I began using it in 2010, creating a sub-directory blog for my website. Though I've moved on, it's still a common practice to setup a Linux VPS and WordPress for my non-coding friends. They love it. I recommend Astra theme with default Gutenberg.

Collapse
 
syeo66 profile image
Red Ochsenbein (he/him)

Back when I was still freelancing I had people installing Wordpress, slapping some Plugins into it and slapping a 'Theme' (they call them theme, in reality those monsters completely new CMS' on top of a CMS...) over it, because it looked prettty, and then wanted to have me fix the things that did not work the way they expected them to work... and were then surprised the costs of me just figuring out what they have running there and how those pieces work under the hood would be more expensive than to just pull up a new site from scratch...

Collapse
 
po0q profile image
pO0q 🦄

sorry for your loss.

Those projects are bad, indeed. Premium themes and plugins can do the job if you use it as is with the provided options, but, it's true that many people like to tweak them in every possible ways, sometimes giving headaches to the "implementors" who have to handle potential incompatibilities with other plugins.

It is a known problem, but in some cases, with the right combination and the right configs, it may work fine :)

Collapse
 
thumbone profile image
Bernd Wechner • Edited

My dirty little secret: I would go to great lengths to avoid touching WordPress. Bloated blogware that magically attacked the CMS world (I mean kudos to the WordPress team but I still won't touch it unless cornered). Just my opinionated view there of course. Coloured strongly by inheriting management of a WordPress site that hadn't been maintained for years 😉.

Collapse
 
techengagepro profile image
Ayesha Javed

your article is fantastic. It is essential to understand what you mean by the Wordpress multisite. WordPress is a popular content management system (CMS) used for creating websites and blogs. Its ecosystem includes themes, plugins, and a vast community of developers and users.